The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation, is the federal agency responsible for issuing and enforcing safety standards regarding the manufacture of motor vehicles and for investigating defective vehicles.
The Secretary of Transportation delegated to NHTSA the authority to administer the National Highway Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (“the Safety Act.”) The basic purpose of the Safety Act is “to reduce traffic accidents and deaths and injuries resulting from traffic accidents,” and per its legislative history “the imposition of mandatory procedures to insure such notification of purchasers and correction of all safety-related defects.”
The Safety Act requires a manufacturer to notify purchasers of safety-related defects and to remedy the defect, which is commonly known as a recall. The Safety Act also gives NHTSA the authority to investigate defects, and to require manufacturers to recall vehicles and/or equipment which have a safety-related defect. NHTSA may also penalize the manufacturer for failing to fulfill its recall responsibilities.